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A look back at government responses to the coronavirus pandemic, April 20-24, 2020

Although the first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020, it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. 

Here are the policy changes that happened April 20-24, 2020. This list is not comprehensive. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Monday, April 20, 2020:

School closures:

  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.

Election changes:

  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Judge Terrence Berg issued an order reducing the petition signature requirements for primary candidates in Michigan to 50 percent of their statutory requirements. Berg also extended the filing deadline from April 21 to May 8, and directed election officials to develop procedures allowing for the collection and submission of electronic petition signatures.

Federal government responses:

  • Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced that travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico would be extended another 30 days. The restrictions, implemented in agreement with Canada and Mexico in late March, prohibited nonessential travel.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Travel restrictions

  • Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) extended the 14-day quarantine requirement for international and out-of-state travelers through May 19.

School closures:

  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
  • West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.

Federal government responses:

  • The U.S. Senate passed the $484 billion Paycheck Protection and Health Care Act. The package included renewed funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and funding for hospitals and testing. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

School closures:

  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced that he would rescind the statewide school closure order on May 7, but that individual districts would be allowed to decide whether to reopen for in-person instruction.
  • Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.

Election changes:

  • The Republican Party of Wisconsin postponed its state convention, originally scheduled to take place in May, to July 10-11.
  • Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) signed HB3005 into law, canceling in-person Election Day voting, in-person early voting, and in-person voter registration in the June 30 election.

Federal government responses:

  • President Donald Trump (R) signed an executive order temporarily suspending the issuance of new green cards. The order only covered applicants residing outside of the country at the time Trump issued the order.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

School closures:

  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the rest of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 1.
  • Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.

Federal government responses:

  • The U.S. House passed the $484 billion Paycheck Protection and Health Care Act 388-5. The bill increased funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as well as for hospitals and testing.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Stay-at-home orders:

  • Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) ended the statewide stay-at-home order, becoming the first state to do so. The new order allowed several types of nonessential businesses to reopen with restrictions, including barbershops, tattoo parlors, and nail salons. 

School closures:

  • North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 15.
  • Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced that schools would not reopen for in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were closed through May 15.

Election changes:

  • Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) issued an executive order directing all voters to utilize absentee voting by mail for the June 23 primary election if they are able to do so.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) issued Executive Order No. 202.23, requiring that all eligible voters in the June 23 election be sent absentee ballot applications.

Federal government responses:

  • President Donald Trump (R) signed the $484 billion Paycheck Protection and Health Care Act passed by Congress earlier in the week. The law included renewed funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and funding for hospitals and testing.  

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Documenting America’s Path to Recovery: April 16, 2021 #Edition #227

Welcome to Documenting America’s Path to Recovery. Today we look at:

  • New Hampshire’s expiring mask mandate
  • Changes in vaccine eligibility in Massachusetts
  • COVID-19 policy changes from this time last year 

We are committed to keeping you updated on everything from mask requirements to curfews to vaccine-related policies. We will keep you abreast of major developments—especially those affecting your daily life. Want to know what we covered yesterday? Click here.

The next 72 hours

What is changing in the next 72 hours?

  • New Hampshire (Republican trifecta): 
    • Everyone 16 and older, including residents of other states, will be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine starting April 19.
    • All K-12 public schools must offer full-time, in-person instruction by April 19. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) said parents will still have the option of requesting remote learning.
    • On Thursday, April 15, Sununu announced he would end the statewide mask mandate Friday, April 16. 
  • Oregon (Democratic trifecta): 
    • All residents 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination starting April 19.
    • Oregon public schools have to open for hybrid or full-time in-person instruction for grades 6-12 by April 19. Gov. Kate Brown (D) issued the requirement on March 12. Previously, elementary schools had to reopen no later than March 29 for hybrid or full-time in-person instruction.
  • Washington (Democratic trifecta): Public schools have to offer all K-12 students at least 30% in-person instruction every week by April 19. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed the proclamation March 15. Previously, elementary schools had to provide students at least two partial days of in-person instruction by April 5.

Since our last edition

What rules and restrictions are changing in each state? For a continually updated article, click here.

  • Indiana (Republican trifecta): On Thursday, April 15, the Indiana Senate voted 36-8 to override Gov. Eric Holcomb’s (R) veto of House Bill 1123, hours after the House voted 59-26 to do the same. The bill now becomes law. House Bill 1123 allows the legislature to call a special session during an emergency. Holcomb said he vetoed the bill because the Indiana Constitution gives the governor the sole authority to convene special sessions of the legislature.  

This time last year: Friday, April 17, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21, 2020. But it wasn’t until March when the novel coronavirus upended life for most Americans. Throughout March and April, many states issued stay-at-home orders, closed schools, restricted travel, and changed election dates. Many of those policies remain in place today. Each week, we’ll look back at some of the defining policy responses of the early coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what happened this time last year. To see a list of all policy changes in each category, click the links below.

Friday, April 17, 2020:

  • School closures:
    • The Hawaii Department of Education closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
    • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
    • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through April 30.
    • Maryland Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon extended the statewide school closure from April 24 through May 15.
    • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) closed schools for the remainder of the academic year. Before the announcement, schools were closed through May 4.
  • Election changes:
    • The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an order extending the candidate filing deadlines for district and county races to May 5, 2020, and June 2, 2020, respectively. The high court reduced candidate petition signature requirements to 50 percent of their statutory level. The court also authorized candidates to collect petition signatures electronically.
    • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) postponed the state’s presidential preference primary from June 2 to Aug. 11, 2020.


Sabina Matos sworn in as Rhode Island lieutenant governor 

The Rhode Island Senate unanimously confirmed Sabina Matos (D) as lieutenant governor on April 13. She was sworn in the following day. 

Governor Daniel McKee (D) nominated Matos as lieutenant governor on March 31. McKee resigned as lieutenant governor to be sworn in as governor on March 2, replacing Gina Raimondo (D) when she became U.S. secretary of commerce under the Biden administration.

Before serving as lieutenant governor, Matos served on the Providence City Council since 2011. She became president of the council in January 2019.

According to NBC, around 80 people applied to be the state’s lieutenant governor. After selecting Matos, McKee said, “I was looking for someone to be a true governing partner…someone who shares my commitment to supporting our 39 cities and towns and our small businesses, and that’s exactly what I found in Sabina.” Matos is the first person of color and second woman to serve as lieutenant governor of Rhode Island.    

Additional Reading:



Suellentrop removed as Kansas State Senate majority leader

Members of the Republican caucus in the Kansas State Senate voted to remove Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop (R) from his position on April 9. The caucus vote was 22-4 following the release of additional details about Suellentrop’s March 16 arrest. Assistant Majority Leader Larry Alley will act as Senate Majority Leader until the Republican caucus selects a new leader in May. 

Suellentrop had previously stepped down from his leadership position on March 17 after the Kansas Highway Patrol arrested him for allegedly driving under the influence and attempting to flee from a law enforcement officer. An affidavit submitted by the arresting officer was released on April 8  that stated Suellentrop’s blood-alcohol level was 0.17, over twice the legal limit. The affidavit also says that Suellentrop taunted the Highway Patrol officer. 

Suellentrop was elected State Senate majority leader in December 2020 and had been set to serve in that role through 2024. The majority leader is the second-highest leadership position in the Kansas State Senate, after the Senate president. As the floor leader of the majority caucus, the majority leader serves as the principal speaker during debates on the Senate floor and works to promote the party’s legislative agenda. 

Suellentrop was first elected to the state Senate in 2016, defeating Tony Hunter, 66.5% to 33.5%. Before his election to the Senate, he served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 2009 to 2017. 

Additional Reading:



Republican Bill Boyd wins New Hampshire state House special election to replace the late Dick Hinch

A special election was held on April 13 for the Hillsborough 21 District of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Bill Boyd (R), a current town councilor in Merrimack, defeated Wendy Thomas (D) and Stephen Hollenberg (Independent) with 53% of the vote. Thomas came in second with 45% of the vote. Boyd’s term will last until December 2022. The Hillsborough 21 District is a multi-member district made up of eight seats. The district is currently represented by six Republicans and one Democrat.

The seat became vacant after the death of state House speaker Dick Hinch (R) on Dec. 9 from complications caused by COVID-19. Republicans gained control of the state House in the November 3 general election and Hinch was elected speaker on December 2. He previously served as the minority leader and the majority leader in the state House. He was first elected to the state House in 2008.

New Hampshire has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the New Hampshire House of Representatives by a margin of 212-186 with two vacancies.

As of April 2021, 33 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. New Hampshire held 29 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2020.

Additional Reading:



DeAnne DeFuccio sworn in to New Jersey General Assembly District 39

DeAnne DeFuccio (R) was sworn in on April 9 to a seat in the New Jersey Assembly, representing the 39th District. DeFuccio won the special election held at the Bergen County Republican Organization on March 31 by a vote of 88-81 over John Azzaritti. 

DeFuccio will serve the remainder of Holly Schepisi’s (R) term, which was set to expire in January 2022. Schepisi vacated the seat after she was selected to represent the 39th Senate District following Gerald Cardinale’d (R) death.

DeFuccio has served on the borough council of Upper Saddle River since March 2020. Previously, she worked as an attorney.

The Republican primary for the 39th Assembly District will take place on June 8, and DeFuccio has filed to run for re-election. Azzaritti, John Glidden, and Jonathan Kurpis will challenge incumbents DeFuccio and Robert Auth (R) in the primary.

Additional Reading:



West Virginia State Legislature refers three constitutional amendments to 2022 ballot during its 2021 session

The West Virginia State Legislature referred three constitutional amendments to the November 2022 ballot on April 9 and 10, the last days of the legislative session. 

  1. West Virginia No Court Authority over Impeachment Amendment
  2. West Virginia Incorporation of Religious Denominations and Churches Amendment
  3. West Virginia Tax Exemptions for Personal Property Used for Business Activity Amendment

To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote is required in both the West Virginia State Senate (23 votes) and the West Virginia House of Delegates (67 votes). November 2020 elections gave Republicans two-thirds majorities in both chambers when previously at least some support from Democrats to refer amendments to the ballot.

One amendment would say that no state court has authority over impeachment proceedings by the state legislature and that no court can review any impeachment judgments made by the state senate. The amendment was introduced as House Joint Resolution 2 on February 11, 2021, and passed largely along party lines in each chamber. The state House approved the amendment by a vote of 78-21 on March 2, 2021. In the House, 76 Republicans and two Democrats voted in favor of it, and 21 Democrats voted against it. On April 9, 2021, the state Senate approved the amendment by a vote of 23-11. All 23 Republicans voted in favor of it, and all 11 Democrats voted against it.

The amendment was proposed in response to an investigation and impeachment proceedings for multiple West Virginia Supreme Court Justices in 2018. Investigation and impeachment proceedings stemmed from the justices’ alleged misuse of over $1 million in state funds, specifically relating to courthouse office renovations; misuse of state vehicles; and illegal payments to senior judges. On October 2, 2018, the Senate censured Justice Beth Walker but did not remove her from office. In October 2018, temporary supreme court justices blocked the Senate from conducting an impeachment trial for Justices Margaret Workman, Robin Davis, and Allen Loughry. A similar amendment was proposed in 2020 but did not receive the necessary two-thirds vote in the House.

Another amendment would authorize the state legislature to pass laws to incorporate churches and religious denominations. The measure was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 4 (SJR 4) on February 10, 2021. The state Senate approved SJR 4 with a vote of 32-0 with two absent on March 2, 2021. On April 7, 2021, the state House adopted the bill with amendments and sent it back to the state Senate. On April 10, the state Senate did not adopt the amendments and sent the bill back to the state House where it was approved in its original form in a vote of 94-4 with one absent. Four Democratic legislators voted against it.

The third amendment would authorize the state legislature to exempt personal property (machinery, equipment, and inventory) used for business activity from ad valorem property taxes. The amendment was introduced as House Joint Resolution 3 (HJR 3) on February 11, 2021. The state House approved an amended version of HJR 3 with a vote of 84-16 on March 31, 2021. Fifteen Democratic representatives and one Republican voted against it. On April 10, 2021, the state Senate approved the measure with a vote of 29-5. Four Democratic senators and one Republican voted against it.

The West Virginia State Legislature convened on February 10, 2021, and adjourned on April 10, 2021. Republicans held a 23-11 majority in the Senate and a 76-24 majority in the House, which means Republicans had the two-thirds majority required to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in both chambers. Before the November 2020 elections, Republicans held 20 seats in the Senate and 58 seats in the House, which means they needed at least three votes from Democrats in the Senate and nine votes from Democrats in the House to refer constitutional amendments to the ballot.

The party also controlled the governorship, creating a Republican state government trifecta.

From 1996 through 2020, 73.3% (11 of 15) of statewide ballot measures in West Virginia were approved, and 26.7% (4 of 15) were defeated.

So far, 21 statewide ballot measures have been certified for the 2022 ballot in 12 states.

At the end of the West Virginia session, there were five constitutional amendments that had passed one chamber. Bills are carried over to the 2022 legislative session as long as the sponsor/sponsors remain in office during the next session, and the measure has not been rejected, tabled, or postponed indefinitely. The five outstanding amendments relate to education, term limits, firearms, and veterans.

The state legislature is set to convene on January 12, 2022, and adjourn on March 12, 2022.

Additional Reading:



Special election primary to be held in New Hampshire House district

A special election primary is being held on April 20 for the Merrimack 23 District of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Christopher Lins and John Martin are running in the Republican primary. Muriel Hall is unopposed in the Democratic primary. The general election is taking place on June 8, and the winner of this special election will serve until December 2022.

The seat became vacant after Samantha Fox (D) resigned on Jan. 12. Fox had represented the district since 2018.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 212-186 majority in the New Hampshire House with two vacancies. New Hampshire has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of April, 33 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. New Hampshire held 29 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

Additional Reading:



Filing deadline approaches in Michigan State Senate special elections

Major party candidates interested in running in the special elections for Michigan State Senate Districts 8 and 28 have until April 20 to file. For independent and minor party candidates, the filing deadline is Aug. 4. The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 3, and the general election is set for Nov. 2. 

The special elections were called after the former officeholders in each district were elected to other offices in November 2020. Former District 8 Sen. Peter Lucido (R) was elected Macomb County Prosecutor. Lucido served in the state Senate from 2019 to 2020. Former District 28 Sen. Peter MacGregor (R) was elected Kent County Treasurer. MacGregor served from 2015 to 2020.

Michigan has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control both the Michigan House of Representatives and the state Senate, with respective margins of 58-52 and 20-16. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was elected to office in 2018.

As of April 2021, 33 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:



Two Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey disqualified from ballot; Gov. Murphy the lone remaining candidate

On April 13, Lisa McCormick and Roger Bacon were disqualified from the Democratic primary ballot for New Jersey governor. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is the only remaining candidate on the ballot.

Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Rabin disqualified McCormick, ruling that none of the 1,951 petition signatures she submitted were valid. The New Jersey Democratic Party had challenged her petition, alleging that it included signatures from voters who said they did not sign the petition along with the signatures of two dead individuals.

Administrative Law Judge JoAnn LaSala Candido disqualified Bacon, ruling that he did not submit the minimum of 1,000 signatures necessary to qualify. Of the signatures Bacon submitted, 281 of them came from registered Republicans.

On the Republican side of the race, four candidates are running for their party’s nomination: Jack Ciattarelli, Brian Levine, Philip Rizzo, and Hirsh Singh.

As of April 6, 2021, two of the three major race rating outlets rated the general election as Solid Democratic and the third rated it as Likely Democratic, but Republicans have had success in the state’s gubernatorial races in the recent past. Between 1992 and 2021, Republicans held the governorship for 16 years and Democrats held the governorship for 14 years. The last Democratic governor to win a re-election campaign was Brendan Byrne in 1977. Since then, two sitting Democratic governors, Jim Florio (1993) and Jon Corzine (2009), lost re-election bids to Republican challengers.

New Jersey and Virginia will hold gubernatorial elections in 2021. Democrats currently hold both positions, but Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is prevented from running for re-election by term limits. Since both offices were last up for election in 2017, 10 governors’ offices have changed party hands. Eight of those changes were from Republicans to Democrats, one was from Democrat to Republican, and one was from independent to Republican.